Jim Carr: Pipeline Application Reviews Are Moving Forward

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OTTAWA — The ongoing reviews of two pipeline proposals will move forward even as the new federal government works to bolster the National Energy Board’s environmental scrutiny of such applications, says Canada’s natural resources minister.

The federal regulator will proceed with its examination of applications for TransCanada’s Energy East and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline projects, Jim Carr told a conference call Wednesday.

“They have not stopped. The process continues,” Carr said from Paris, where he attended an International Energy Agency ministerial meeting ahead of a United Nations-sponsored summit on climate change later this month.

“There will be a transition as we amend the ways in which the National Energy Board goes about the process of evaluating these projects and we will announce those changes as soon as we can. But the process continues.”

The focus on Energy East and Trans Mountain — two proposals to get Alberta oil to tidewater on the east and west coasts, respectively — has intensified in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Carr also reiterated Liberal opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a mandate letter to Carr last week instructing him to “modernize” the National Energy Board by ensuring it reflects regional views and boasts sufficient expertise in environmental science, community development and indigenous traditional knowledge.

“We’re in favour of a process that’s more inclusive because our goal is to help Canadians be confident in the regulatory process,” Carr said.

In the letter, Trudeau also tasked Carr with helping cabinet colleagues build a partnership with the United States and Mexico in order to create “an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement.”

Carr said he met his American and Mexican counterparts in Paris this week to discuss a continental approach, which included energy security and sustainability.

“We agreed on an agenda,” he said. “I have invited them to both to come to Canada for the next trilateral meeting sometime early in the new year when we will flesh out the details of our agenda.”

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